The world football governing body, FIFA, has banned an Italian Serie A club, Spezia Calcio for recruiting underage players from Nigeria which is against the immigration laws in Italy. The scandal reportedly happened between 2013 and 2017.
In the last couple of years, the investigation has shown that Spezia Calcio has recruited 13 minors from Nigeria to Italy. After an investigation into the scheme, FIFA confirmed that the club has breached Italy’s immigration laws.
Hence, FIFA had to slam a two-year transfer ban on Spezia which means that the club would not be able to sign new players for two seasons. The ban will take effect from the summer of 2022 which means that the club has the grace of this summer and winter transfer windows to sign new players before the ban commenced.
Most of the illegal signings were done when Spezia Calcio were playing in Serie B. They gained promotion to Serie A ahead of the 2020-2021 season.
In their first season in Serie A, they were able to record 9 wins, 12 draws, and 17 defeats. The performance earned them 39 points which were enough to help them finish 15th on the league table.
Aside from the fact that the club would not be able to sign players for four transfer windows, Spezia must pay a fine worth 500,000 Swiss francs to FIFA.
The ban on Spezia came less than five months after an American investor bought the club. It came less than three weeks after former Italy midfielder Thiago Motto was appointed the club’s new manager.
The new owners of the club insisted that they have nothing to do with the illegal recruitment of minors from Nigeria.
Spezia’s American president Philip Raymond Platek said: “The new ownership had no role in the alleged transgressions,’ he added.
“We will appeal and take appropriate measures to ensure that our team remains competitive in the years to come.”
Aside from Spezia, FIFA also linked Italian lower-tier clubs – Lavagnese 1919 and Valdivara to the scheme. Hence, they were fined 4,000 Swiss francs respectively.
“Fifa Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) by bringing several Nigerian minors into Italy using a scheme aimed at circumventing the aforesaid RSTP article as well as national immigration law,” a FIFA statement said.
“The Fifa Disciplinary Committee took into account that Spezia Calcio accepted responsibility for its serious regulatory violations, and imposed a registration ban … for four registration periods and a fine of 500,000 Swiss (US$544,000).”
Italian police have started further investigation into the scheme since he concerns a breach of immigration laws in the country. finalized